Opposition to school, social housing project for Coal Harbour ‘crazy,’ supporter says
City hall has been flooded with correspondence as a furious debate erupts over a proposed Coal Harbour development incorporating an elementary school, social housing and a child care facility.
Dozens of opponents of the project urged council to reject the development, saying it could block their waterfront views, increase traffic, decrease their property values, and bring drugs and crime.
Some supporters of the project — a 340-student elementary school, 65 child care spaces, and a 60-unit social housing building on a city-owned parking lot at 480 Broughton St. — are surprised it’s even a debate.
“It’s crazy that this is controversial,” said Derrick O’Keefe, a local housing activist and writer. “We should look at these things the other way, and what’s controversial is that you had land available for a school and social housing in this neighbourhood for 30 years, … It seems like a no-brainer. The only thing that should be controversial is how long it’s taken.”
The official development plan for Coal Harbour, adopted in 1990, called for the Broughton site to be a community hub including a community centre, child care, an elementary school, and social housing. In 1997, a preliminary development permit was approved, which was split into two phases. The first phase, completed in 2000, included a community centre, park and underground parking. The second stage, with the school, non-market housing, and child care, “was held until funding was available,” says the staff report before council this week.
Now, city staff are asking council to allow additional height and density for the site, to increase the social housing from 40 units to 60, lifting the building’s height from 30 metres to 38.8 metres, or 11 storeys.